Microchannel, distribution, evaporator, efficiency
The performance of air to refrigerant heat exchangers can be affected greatly by both refrigerant and air flow distribution. Maldistribution of either fluid stream can lead to reduced heat transfer effectiveness of the heat exchanger and thus lower system efficiency and capacity. Microchannel evaporators are especially susceptible to refrigerant maldistribution as they typically have many parallel channels fed by a common header or manifold. This paper outlines general trends in refrigerant flow distribution in such evaporators taking into account various heat exchanger orientations. In addition, links between heat exchanger performance and refrigerant flow distribution characteristics in microchannel evaporators are made using both analytical and experimental methods. These results show that unification of the liquid refrigerant flow distribution in the evaporator can lead to quantifiable improvements in evaporator performance.